March against Monsanto: Rallying for our Future

Photo by Eric Draitser

May 30, 2013 (RT – Eric Draitser) – The worldwide March Against
Monsanto this past Saturday was no mere political demonstration.
Rather, it was a worldwide mobilization against corporate greed, the
assault on our health and environment, and the oppression of small

As the diverse crowd gathered in New York City’s Union Square on
an unseasonably cold and rainy Memorial Day weekend – just as
they did in hundreds of cities around the world – it was clear
that Monsanto and the issue of health and food sovereignty
transcends political ideology. People from all walks of life
joined together to reject Monsanto and its pesticides,
Genetically Modified Organisms (GMOs), and socially and
environmentally destructive business practices.

However, some might wonder, why such focus on Monsanto? After
all, isn’t Monsanto merely one of many multinational corporations
that damage our political, economic, environmental, and physical

Photo by Eric Draitser

Photo by Eric Draitser

It’s true that Monsanto is not alone in promoting destructive
technologies such as pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs – DuPont,
Dow, Bayer, Syngenta, and others are also culprits.

However, due to its global dominance and ubiquity, Monsanto has
become the rallying cry, the symbol for all that is wrong with
our agricultural, political, and economic systems.

Monsanto Means Physical and Environmental Damage

In recent years, the harmful effects of pesticides, herbicides,
and GMOs have become well known. However, in that same time,
Monsanto and its corporate brothers-in-arms have only increased
their power and profits. In order to understand the extent of the
problem and the role of corporations in creating and exacerbating
it, one must first examine precisely how Monsanto’s
products are harmful to humanity.

One of the most troubling aspects of this issue is the myriad
ways in which pesticides, herbicides, and GMOs are harmful to our
health. Countless
have been conducted over the years showing a
definitive link between pesticides and cancer, Parkinson’s,
Alzheimer’s and other diseases. As reported
by Natural Health Magazine, “Glyphosphate (RoundUp) is found
in weed killers and may cause cardiovascular, gastrointestinal,
nerve, and respiratory damage.
” These dangerous effects of
pesticides and herbicides are not always immediately apparent,
often taking decades to fully develop. Therefore, despite the
wealth of research, the extent of the problem is still very much

Photo by Eric Draitser

Photo by Eric Draitser

However, the problem is much greater in scope than simply the
visible health effects.

Pesticides and herbicides, the most popular of which is the
Monsanto-manufactured RoundUp, often can contaminate
, negatively affecting livestock and agriculture
that depend on clean water for survival. Additionally, the use of
pesticides has been definitively linked to the growing
of bee colony collapse, a troubling new trend that,
if it persists, will have deadly ramifications for all of us as
bees are responsible for pollinating at least one third of all
the food humans consume.

Perhaps the most controversial aspect of Monsanto and the other
big Agribusiness corporations’ work is the production of
genetically modified seeds. These seeds, either engineered to be
resistant to pesticides such as RoundUp or to produce their own
pesticides, are seen by many as a physical and environmental
threat. As Jeffrey Smith of the Institute for Responsible
Technology has explained:

“The genetic engineering process creates massive collateral
damage, causing mutations in hundreds or thousands of locations
throughout the plant’s DNA. Natural genes can be deleted or
permanently turned on or off, and hundreds may change their
behavior. Even the inserted gene can be damaged or rearranged,
and may create proteins that can trigger allergies or promote


The negative effect of GMOs on our health is a subject that,
despite having been studied extensively, still requires more

However, millions of concerned citizens, farmers and scientists
agree that, in light of what we do know about GMOs, we should err
on the side of caution, not on the side of profits for
multinational corporations.

Monsanto and the Oppression of Small Farmers

Beyond the environmental and physical damage caused by Monsanto
and its corporate co-conspirators, there is the fact that small
farmers all over the world are being forced or otherwise coerced
into a submissive and servile position in relation to the
corporate bullies on the block.


One way in which Monsanto, DuPont, et al dominate small
farmers is through the monopolization of the seed supply. Using
their teams of lawyers, these corporations have managed to patent
the seeds and genetic codes within those seeds and, by
introducing them into the seed supply, force farmers to buy their
seeds season after season, or risk facing crippling


Photo by Eric Draitser

Photo by Eric Draitser

The Center for Food Safety recently issued a report entitled
“Seed Giants vs US

in which it documented that Monsanto alone has “has alleged
seed patent infringement in 144 lawsuits against 410 farmers and
56 small farm businesses in at least 27 US states as of January
of 2013
.”These lawsuits, and the
crippling fear of more lawsuits, has forced small farmers who
could never afford to challenge Monsanto in the courts to simply
acquiesce to their demands.

Moreover, many of these farmers might be “infringing” on patents
through no fault of their own as the genetically modified seeds
penetrate the fields of the non-GMO farmers through natural
processes such as wind. Essentially then, what Monsanto has
created is a closed system wherein they and their corporate
cousins control most agricultural production either through the
seeds or by extracting income from farmers who are unable to
defend themselves.

It should be noted that many of the small farmers who fall victim
to this kind of extortion are in the Global South.

Rural peasants in India and South Africa, Brazil and Mexico, and
many other parts of the developing world, are being forced into
this deadly corporate system. Without the means to defend
themselves, and with governments that often act as willing
executors of the demands of powerful corporations such as
Monsanto and others, the rural peasant class has no choice but to
use the GMO seeds. The health and environmental impact of this
shift, along with the destruction of traditional indigenous
methods of agriculture, is being painfully expressed throughout
the world.

Resisting Monsanto, Defending Humanity

This weekend’s marches against Monsanto were a wonderful
demonstration of the popular anger over the monopolization of
agriculture by corporate interests.

Hundreds of thousands marched through the streets of hundreds of
cities around the world demanding an end to the poisoning of our
bodies, our children, and our environment. In New York, for
example, the march was punctuated by chants of “Hey hey, ho
ho…GMOs have got to go
” and “Hell no G-M-O…hell no
”, as men, women, and children marched in a long,
unbroken line of citizens unwilling to swallow the lies and
poisons they’re being fed.

Photo by Eric Draitser

Photo by Eric Draitser

However, what is missing from many of the articles being written
by concerned journalists and bloggers the world over is the fact
that the fight against Monsanto and corporate control over the
global food system is not relegated to one day of demonstrations.
Rather, this resistance struggle has been ongoing and, for small
farmers, this is an existential struggle. Organizations such as
La Via Campesina have
been working tirelessly to advocate the rights of peasants around
the world. As the organization wrote in its recent report entitled “Combatting Monsanto”:

“With the current economic and environmental crises,
global resistance against transnational corporations has become
an urgent necessity.A fair society organized to address the
people’s needs and guarantee their rights cannot be built in
co-existence with corporations that grab power and finite
resources. We are calling for collective action from all of those
who share our vision of a sustainable world. There has never been
a more important time to globalize our struggles and globalize


La Via Campesina, which represents more than 200 million
farmers, workers, and activists all over the world, is a powerful
symbol of resistance against Monsanto and the domination of
agricultural production by the interests of industrial and
finance capital.


More to the point, this organization and others like it,
give voice to the voiceless masses toiling in the fields the
world over. For the millions of small farmers who reject GM seeds
and pesticides in favor of traditional organic farming methods,
this resistance struggle is in fact a struggle for their very


The real power of the March Against Monsanto this past
Saturday May 25 cannot be measured in the turnout or the media
coverage. Instead, the significance could be understood in the
face of a young boy kneeling on the cold, wet concrete in Union
Square, New York City holding a sign that read “We want to live”,
with his father next to him clutching a sign reading “The right
to feed your children well.” The young boy’s sister, on the other
side of her father, gripping her placard that conveyed the simple
yet powerful message, “Greed kills”. As I marched along with my
fellow New Yorkers against the overwhelming power of Monsanto and
the seemingly immutable force of multinational corporations, I
couldn’t help but feel that, by all of us uniting, we are
winning… that together we can defeat them.